Vintage Level

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

I love old hand tools. I am obsessed with them – planes, chisels, drawknives, squares, braces/bits, saws, I love them all. Despite this I usually pass up on old wooden levels when I find them in the wild. Partly because they aren’t usually very useful at this point – the wood moves and cracks over the years, bringing it out of straight. Partly because the people selling them don’t know this, and tend to price them very high. But when I came across this particular vintage level, I had to buy it.

Stanley no. 30 vintage level

The levels are adjustable and are set in beautiful brass accents

The level was made by Stanley Rule and Level Co., which most likely puts it in the 1850- 1900 range. It was grimy and dirty to the point where the wood was an unidentifiably dull brown and the brass was tarnished, but the build quality of the level still shone through. Also, the glass levels were all intact. It sat around in my workshop for a few months before I had a very unusual evening with nothing to do, so I decided to clean it up. I sanded the whole thing down using 150 grit sandpaper, and used a chisel to carefully pare off the glue that solidified over the last century. I then sanded the whole thing again using 220 grit, and used 400 grit to bring some shine to the brass.

Stanley Vintage Level

Stanley Rule & Level Co. No. 30 Level

At this point it became clear that the level was made of Cherry – but I was definitely not prepared for what it would look like after a coat of tung oil. The tung oil brought out a very intense redness in the Cherry, a redness that comes from over a 100 years exposed to light. The rich, deep redness and the shiny brass accents are just a fantastic combination. It may not be very useful, but it’s a testament to the quality of the old Stanley tools, and it sure looks great on top of my tool cabinet.

Stanley vintage level

The Cherry wood has a beautiful redness to it that goes really well with the brass accents

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Restorations, Tools, 0 comments